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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Dervish \Der"vish\, Dervise \Der"vise\, Dervis \Der"vis\, n. [Per. derw[=e]sch, fr. OPer. derew to beg, ask alms: cf. F. derviche.]

  1. A Turkish or Persian monk, especially one who professes extreme poverty and leads an austere life.

  2. One of the fanatical followers of the Mahdi, in the Sudan, in the 1880's.

  3. in modern times, a member of an ascetic Mohammedan sect notable for its devotional exercises, which include energetic chanting or shouting and rhythmic bodily movement, such as whirling, leading to a trance-like state or ecstasy. From these exercises the phrase whirling dervish is derived.

  4. figuratively, a person who whirls or engages in frenzied activity reminiscent of the dervish[3] dancing.


Derviş is the Turkish and Bosnian (Derviš) spelling of the Persian and Arabic word "" , referring to a Sufi aspirant. The word appears as a given name and surname in various forms throughout Arabic, Bosnian (a Slavic language), Persian, and Turkish-speaking communities. An etymology for the name is given in the Oxford Dictionary of American Family Names:

Usage examples of "dervis".

A crowd of dervises visited the tents, to instil the desire of martyrdom, and the assurance of spending an immortal youth amidst the rivers and gardens of paradise, and in the embraces of the black-eyed virgins.

The really diligent student in one of the crowded hives of Cambridge College is as solitary as a dervis in the desert.